LBSU women’s soccer to open season against Arizona
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Updated: Saturday, August 18, 2012 16:08
The Long Beach State women’s soccer team will begin its Big West title defense Friday night against Arizona at George Allen Field, where it hosted a 1-1 draw with San Diego State last Friday.
Junior Chyann Saban scored the 49ers’ lone goal in the 47th minute of last week’s game, which ended without overtime after SDSU’s Soledad Gomez tied it up in the 86th minute. It was a preview of the ‘Niners upcoming season, which will include seven games under the new lights at George Allen Field.
“I think atmosphere is going to be tremendous for our community, for our program, for our fans and for people who can’t get off work before five o’clock,” head coach Mauricio Ingrassia said of the night games. “For them to be able to come enjoy the team, I think that’s going to be big.”
The first of those night games will be played against Arizona on Friday.
Arizona returns 14 starters, but all 14 are from a team that went 1-16-2 last season. The 49ers’ defensive unit shouldn’t face much of a challenge, as the Wildcats scored a total of three goals in all of 2011.
Head coach Lisa Oyen has a record of 7-35-4 during her seven-year stint leading Arizona. Her best season came in 2005, when she was a part of a coaching staff that led the team to an 11-8-3 record and the sweet sixteen of the NCAA tournament.
The Arizona defense will have to put up with 2011 All-American Nadia Link, who tied the LBSU single-season record for goals last year with 16. Link was recently named to the watch list for the 2012 Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the best collegiate women’s soccer player of the year.
Looking to limit the Wildcats’ scoring opportunities will be center defender Alex Balcer. Balcer was recently named to the College Sports Madness preseason All-America team along with Link and is the leader of an experienced defensive unit that returns all four starters from 2011.
That unit will do its best to take the pressure off of goalkeepers Marrina Meyers and Kaci McCain, who will play their first meaningful minutes of collegiate soccer this season. They played 45 minutes apiece and made a combined five saves in last week’s scrimmage, with McCain surrendering SDSU’s lone goal late in the game.
LBSU’s only other meeting with Arizona came in 2008, when the 49ers defeated the Wildcats 2-0 in Tucson.